SeaWorld Parks Go Head To Head With Disney, Universal

SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica:
Orlando’s Salute to the Seas, 2nd edition
by Kelly Monaghan with Seth Kubersky
Published: March 2012
ISBN 978-1-937011-02-4
235 pages • 6 X 9 • 4 maps • Index
Trade paperback original
Printed in the U.S.A.
List Price $15.95

Guidebook chronicles rise
of new theme park empire in Central Florida

ORLANDO, FL (March 1, 2013) – The Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resorts have always competed for the attention of tourists, but recent changes in the theme park landscape in Central Florida have upped the ante considerably.

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment is the new entity created by the sale of Anheuser-Busch’s old theme park portfolio by Belgian brewing giant In-Bev. Freed from their status as afterthoughts in a company whose main business is selling adult beverages, five family friendly parks in Orlando and Tampa are concentrating on building a brand that offers the same multi-park, multi-day vacation option that has long been the province of Disney and Universal.

The parks are SeaWorld, the flagship Orlando park built around the wonders of marine mammals, Discovery Cove, a luxury swim-with-the-dolphins experience, and Aquatica, a bright new water park. In nearby Tampa, Busch Gardens combines a world-class zoo with cutting edge roller coaster thrills, while Adventure Island offers another water park alternative.

Together, they offer a range of activities and experiences that their rivals cannot match. And like their rivals, they enjoy the distinction of having a guidebook devoted exclusively to the attractions they house.

SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica by Kelly Monaghan with Seth Kubersky ($15.95, The Intrepid Traveler), now in its second edition, offers in-depth coverage of every SeaWorld park in Central Florida. Monaghan reviews every ride, every show, every restaurant and every shop, a level of detail that more general guidebooks to Orlando simply don’t have the space to provide.

SeaWorld, the oldest of the parks, has long offered a “natural” alternative to the heavily themed fantasy parks of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Its large stadium shows showcase some of nature’s greatest wonders — killer whales leaping high in the air, lithe dolphins performing in Cirque du Soleil-like splendor, and sea lions and walruses just horsing around.

SeaWorld is also home to a growing number of roller coasters and thrill rides. “SeaWorld hit on a winning combination when they added Kraken, an absolutely awesome steel roller coaster,” Monaghan says. “Then they upped the thrill quotient when they opened Manta, a ‘flying coaster’ that takes riders high in the air and then within a few feet of a splashdown.

“SeaWorld Parks has done an excellent job of appealing to the family market, while creating a number of opportunities for those with higher budgets to treat themselves to a heightened vacation experience,” adds Monaghan. “The dolphin swim at Discovery Cove is a perfect example; it’s the most expensive day you can spend at an Orlando area theme park.”

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